Expert Witnesses: 5 Common Cash-Flow Mistakes, #3

#3, Not Utilizing Your Leverage When It Comes to Delinquent Payees:

You have leverage and at times you need to use it!  We are all busy professionals and often forget to do something if it is not right in front of us – for our attorney clients, paying us experts is one of them.  Sometimes we have a client or two that continuously don’t pay on time, become several invoices behind and need to have a little fire lit under them in order to get their attention.  This is when your leverage becomes a golden tool.  When you mention the leverage points that could slow or halt the deliverable of your product(s) clients are more responsive in submitting payment to you.  The last thing your client wants is a delay in receiving your deliverable; and the last thing you want as an expert is a client that isn’t paying you for your services.  

  • Draft – Often times your client will want to see your progress on their deliverable.  Your work in progress should always be watermarked with “DRAFT” prior to sharing with your client.  As a draft version of your work cannot be used as a presentation item in court, your client will want the watermarked “DRAFT” removed before presenting your work at trial or settlement.        
  • Halting Your Work – Everyone wants to receive their deliverable on time.  As the expert, you want to receive payment on time for your deliverable.  If your client is behind on paying your invoices it is critical to halt your work.  If you continue to work, the amount owed will continue to grow, and you are training your client to continue to be delinquent if there are no consequences to their lack of accountability.  This will be harmful to your cash-flow and therefore lifeblood of your business. 
  • Delay Your Deposition and/or Trial Appearance – It is critical for your client to have you at your deposition and trial, and therefore your attendance is a very useful leverage point when negotiating payment.  A firm refusal to appear without the current outstanding invoices being paid prior to deposition is one of the most powerful leverage tools at your disposal.  Many experts balk at using this tool, fearing it will alienate their clients.  In my experience the opposite it’s true – you teach your clients how to treat you and clients respect an expert who is organized and methodical.  In addition, going to your deposition with monies owed can lead to problems for you as an expert.  A common request from the other side is not only your working files but your invoices for this case.  After they receive your invoices the question is asked – “Does this client owe you money?”  If your answer is “Yes” you are guaranteed to have uncomfortable follow up questions that will be related to your ethics/motivations in finishing the work (are you going to shade your results in order to appease the client and therefore increase likelihood of getting paid?).  Your deposition and trial testimony will go a lot smoother if your client doesn’t have an outstanding balance.

Use of the items listed above will result in a faster turnaround time for your payment(s).  It is important that you have these items listed in your contract to make your client aware that these leverage points will be fully executed if they do not pay on time.  At ARS we keep track of your deposition and trial testimony schedule.  We alert you when a client has become delinquent and there is an upcoming request for your presents.  At that point we will discuss the history of this client, the leverage options you have and how to most effectively put them to use. 

Stay Tuned Next Week for #4!

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